Happy birthday to us – and it is nice to be genuinely happy about one for a change, as it is all too easy to become Eeyore-ish about birthdays once you’ve had 50 of them. Birthday smirthday. Give me a deflated balloon if you must.
I have run away for the past few of my birthing fests, working on the principle that if I pretended it wasn’t happening, it wouldn’t. Didn’t work. And I missed out on the presents.
You can be outrageously camp: I’ve just bought an emerald green, duchess satin, vintage cocktail coat. Really, Danny La Rue would feel quite at ease in it
So I’ve decided to be cheerful about my next birthday, at the end of next month, and in my new Pollyanna mood – “You ought to be glad!” – have been reminding myself of all the things that are better about being 50-bleep, with particular regards to personal attire. Kit.
High up on my glad list is this: you don’t feel any pressure to follow ‘trends’ (holds up annoying bent fingers) any more. You can if you want to, and I relish the game of cherry picking the cheeky little hints at the new season that work for me each time.
But by one’s age, ideally, you should have found what suits you, irrespective of what Miuccia Prada and Stella McCartney think is lovely just at the moment. This is my justification for the constant head-to-ankle (sometimes even the toe) navy.*
I’m short, so one colour all up is a good optical illusion. I’ve got blue eyes. Everything goes with it and it all goes with itself. It’s not Sicilian widow black. It’s as good a background colour as black, so all feature accessories pop out against it. It goes brilliantly with black. It’s so straight it can be quite bent.
So navy is my thing; yours might be Rajasthani mirror dresses, designer gym gear, vintage polka dots or tailored trouser suits. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that the style has become such an identifiable part of you that you always feel your best self in it and your friends could recognisably dress up as you for a fancy dress party.
Another feature advantage of mid-life dressing: you can be outrageously camp. I’ve just bought an emerald green, duchess satin, vintage cocktail coat that proves the point. Really, Danny La Rue would feel quite at ease in it.
And while I would have happily worn it in public up to the age of 25, I wouldn’t have been seen dead in it during any of the years in between then and now.
At 35, when I just wanted to look breathlessly chic, I would have felt like a try-hard novelty dresser in it, but advancing age is like an access-all-areas lanyard pass – it gives you permission to make big shouty style statements again. And in fact, the bigger the better. Go all Carmen Miranda, if you want. I’m aiming at Auntie Mame. I’m planning to wear that emerald coat over a watermelon pink dress. Oh yeah.
Go big, go bold
By the same token, it pays to go wild with costume jewellery – the biggest baddest cocktail rings look best on older girls – and pile on lots of everything. Don’t wear one string of amber beads, make it a petrified forest of prehistoric tree resin around your neck. Don’t think pink, think big.
Just as I spent my teens and twenties in training to be a grown-up, I’m investing these years practising to be a glamorous golden girl. One day, I want to be like fabulous Iris Apfel, the amazing Gita Lee and the other wonderful octogenarians featured on Ari Seth Cohen’s wonderful Advanced Style blog, devoted to stylish properly elderly people (like, over 70).
Yes, the fashion future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades. Absolutely enormous round red ones.
* For anyone who remembers my recent whinge-a-thon about not being able to find good navy blue T-shirts anywhere this summer, I have since lucked out in Dorothy Perkins. Good quality cotton jersey, proper dark navy, nice and long, boat neck, narrow fit, cap sleeves, wash beautifully. And just £5. I’ve bought six of them.
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